Saturday, June 09, 2007

Student Voices Heard

Kari Grady Grossman is someone who is making a difference in Cambodia. Her book, Bones That Float, is a fantastic read and a great vehicle that introduces the public at large to her school, tucked away in a remote part of the Cardamom Mountains. I loved the press attention that the students at her school generated in February and here's an update from Kari's Friends of the Grady Grossman School website:
“The high ranking people are now scared of the people of Chrauk Tiek because they can speak out to the world,” school director Ngim So Bun told Kari Grady Grossman this week. He is referring to the letter writing campaign that Kari started at the school in February 2007 when the teachers, monks and community leaders felt frustrated and powerless about the forest destruction and its attendant corruption that had overwhelmed their lives. The students letters inspired feature reports on Voice of America, The Cambodia Daily (English), Cambodoge Soir (French), and Mohaboros (Khmer) newspapers. On May 23 a helicopter bearing reporters and environmental rangers visited Trapeang Chor Commune, looking to crack down on the forces of forest destruction.
The voice of our school community has been heard, a stunning break in the cycle of oppression. As a result, 100 drop outs have returned to school because their families see greater value in time spent studying, 40 illegal logging operators have left the area, decreasing the rate of deforestation by 50%. The community elected a new and honest Head of Commune, our good friend Nou Nuon, of the Souy hilltribe. Unfortunately, although he received the majority of votes, the ruling party will not allow Nou Nuon to assume the position, and he remains the Deputy Head of Commune. However, the people trust and listen to him, and he is a strong advocate for everyone to send their children to school daily. Nou Nuon stays in regular contact with Kari. Knowledge is power, and we intend to keep the “high ranking people” scared of the empowered children of Chrauk Tiek.
You can read the Voice of America story here and see examples of the student's drawings that accompanied their letter-writing protests.

1 comment:

George said...

Hi Andy,
Not sure if you are posting from Cambodia yet, but let me know if you want to visit the school and we can arrange it. Juliette Snyder and her parents are visiting the school in the coming days. Thanks, Kari